Biluochun Green Tea

The second (or sometimes the first ranked) green tea almost always included in the classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas” is called Bi luo Chun, from Suzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. Suzhou is a two hour drive North from Hangzhou, the home of Dragon Well tea. Suzhou is closer to Shanghai, basically directly West from there. This Bi Luo Chun is from Yin xiang hua xia tea and I believe it is their “Fresh Bi Luo Chun”.

Bi is green, Luo is Snail, and Chun is spring, so the tea’s name translates to Green Snail Spring. The sort of double twist that the tea is shaped into is said to resemble a snail out of its shell, (though it is harder to tell with these fine buds than it was with the coarse Bi Luo Chun from Yunnan.) It is very green, especially when Fresh, and it is only harvested in spring when the buds are smallest.

Bi Luo Chun is a much more delicate tea than Dragon Well. This is a particularly fine version, almost entirely the tiniest buds with very few leaves.

It reminds me a bit of the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle White Tea, though it does have some of the same nut character as Dragon Well. It is almost light enough to be a white tea, and it is certainly as bud forward as the Jade Needle tea was, though, of course, the Yunnan tea had much larger buds than these tiny things, which are barely bigger than your fingernail.

For being such a light tea, it is suprisingly re-steepable, with a clean refreshing broth and very long lasting aftertaste.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #YinXiangHuaXiaTea #GreenTea #BiLuoChun

Imperial Dragon Well

Yunnan Sourcing Imperial Dragon Well Tea From Hangzhou Long Jing Tea 2018.

I believe I’ve mentioned before, there is a classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas”. There’s a bit of waffling about some of the 4-6 Green Teas usually on the list, but one that is always on, and almost always first, is Long Jing Dragonwell from Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate/fear relationship with Dragon Well tea.

I drank it almost exclusively for several years, accidentally super overdosed one time, and now am a bit nervous about trying it again.

The problem with highly regarded, highly produced, highly desired, and often expensive Chinese teas, is, you run the risk that the producers will use chemicals or you will actually not get what you asked for.

Like the fact that far more Olive Oil is sold as Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil than could possibly be produced in Italy, more tea is sold as “Long Jing Dragonwell” than could possibly be produced in that Chinese province. Most often it is simply green tea from another region made in the style of Dragon Well.

I sort of suspect the tea I had such an adverse reaction to may not have been actual Dragon Well and may have been treated with chemicals.

In any case, that is not this Dragon Well.

You can see the typical flattened spear shape and lighter olive green color.

Brewed well with water this tea expresses a wonderful nutty taste, chestnut is the flavor used to describe what it evokes, but I get a little bit of coconut. It has a rich broth, lingering flavor, and re-steepability beyond what you would expect from a green tea. There is a little bit of tannic sensation in the later steeps, but no bitterness at all.

I brewed it in a Gaiwan, though it is more typical to brew Dragon Well Tea in a pitcher or glass, refilling with water as you go along.

I’m glad I overcame my reluctance and renewed my acquaintance with Dragon Well, one of China’s Top Teas.

#Cha #Tea #DragonWell #YunnanSourcing #DrinkTea #GreenTea

Baihaoyinzhen

Bai Hao Yin Zhen

So, one of the fun things about writing about tea on instagram is that there is a pretty active community of tea drinkers and tea marketers.

As I mentioned before, it’s not that unusual to post about a type of tea and have someone message you and say, “If you liked their Baihaoyinzhen, you need to try my Baihaoyinzhen!” Which is pretty fun.

And that is exactly what happened here.

I had posted about the Yunnan Sourcing (@yunnan_sourcing) Fuding “Bai Hao Yin Zhen” Silver Needles White Tea and another user, @yinxianghuaxiatea, immediately messaged me telling I needed to try their White Tea from Fuding.

I was kind of finishing up with White Tea by this point, but I thought, “Why Not?” Plus, they had some other pretty tempting teas listed on their Instagram Account.

Anyway, if you are looking for a very good Fuding White Tea, you should think about ordering from Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea, as this is about the best White Tea of this type I’ve tried. Amazingly clean taste, great re-steepability, and a length of aftertaste that just won’t quit. Not to mention a nice zippy buzz.

#Baihaoyinzhen #FujianTea #FudingTea #WhiteTea #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

wu dong bai ye

When I first started writing about tea on instagram, I got a message out of the blue from Chao Zhou Tea Growers, aka @wudongtea, asking if I would like to try some Organic Oolong Tea.

Oolong tea is not particularly common in the US. I had tried a few over the years, but didn’t really know much about it. In fact, I had sort of been avoiding it, as from what I had read, Oolong was basically a whole other world of tea and tea terminology from the basics of White, Green, and Black teas. Many Oolong teas are highly coveted and often quite expensive.

But, how could I refuse some samples? The usual rule with these deals, I come to understand, is, you buy some of their teas, and they send along some small samples of their other teas.

The first batch, I bought 100g of their Honey Orchid Oolong, and they sent along samples of their  Ya Shi Xiang, aka Duck Poop Fragrance varietal tea.

I drank all the Honey Orchid, but really liked their Duck Shit Oolong, so decided to re-up my supply of that with my next order.

The previous bunch of teas and samples they had sent had all been in the “Orchid” family of flavors, so I asked them to send me a couple samples that were different varietals/flavors/fragrances.

This is Spring 2018 Chaozhou Old Bush Wudong Bai Ye Oolong Tea. Bai Ye means “White Leaf”. It is called that because the leaves of the tea varietal used to produce it are lighter in color than most other tea trees.

The flavor of the Bai Ye varietal is most often described as “Peach”, but it is more evocative of Peach Blossom scent than the flavor of ripe peaches.

It has just enough grip in the early steeps to keep it interesting, but it is the length that is crazy. This tea haunted me for days after drinking it.

Delicious!

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018 from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

I sort of thought yesterday’s “Jade Dragon” would be the highlight of the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler, but this tea is even more interesting.

First, due to the name of the village it is grown in. “This lovely tea is grown in Mengku County of Lincang in a village called “Dofu Zhai” (aka Tofu Village).” Tofu Village!

Second, it is a special varietal local to “Tofu Village” that is a hybrid of pure Camellia sinensis var. assamica and another varietal called “Change Ye Bai Hao”.

The name, “Song Zhen,” (or “Pine Needles,”) of course, comes from the appearance of the processed tea. After the “kill green” step, they are rolled super tightly along the rib to have the appearance, for all anyone knows, of being a pile of pine needles.

But, mostly, the tea is amazing due to its flavor. It comes out of the gate with a buttery caramel-esque flavor. Seriously. Which gives way to a mild stonefruit core. Finishes with sweetness, a touch of astringency, a very pleasant buzz, and a camphor/menthol sensation that seems to evaporate from your tongue.

What a wild ride!

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing

Feng Qing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018

Feng Quing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

The term “Pekoe” in the name of this tea is a bit confusing for me. Usually, “Pekoe” refers, when combined with the word “Orange”, to a non-tippy type of broken black tea, from an obscure British/Dutch tea classification system.

The Yunnan Sourcing website says this tea is, “A robust white pekoe varietal green tea from Feng Qing area of Lincang.”

That implies that there is a Chinese tea varietal called “pekoe”?

Color me confused.

However, as soon as I taste this tea, I am far less confused. While it isn’t quite the green powerhouse that the Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai was, nor is it the mild mannered tea of either the Green Snail or the Cui Ming.

It charts a nice path right down the upper middle of the green teas I’ve tried, with very good vegetal pea/bean flavor, nice re-steepability, and a lengthy sweet after-taste. And a pleasantly zippy caffeine buzz. I could defintely drink the heck out of this one, whatever its pedigree.

#GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun.

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

There are a group of teas, or type of teas, which are classically called, “China’s 10 Famous Teas” (or sometimes 8 famous teas).

This classification goes back to before the communist revolution, at least late 1800s or early 1900s, maybe earlier.

The list slightly varies a bit from source to source, but it is usually about half green tea.

At the time, among those green teas, Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail Spring from Suzhou, Jiangsu, was often considered the best of the best.

Suzhou is in the Central Eastern province, Jiangsu, near Shanghai.

This isn’t Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail.

It is from Yunnan, which is a province in Southern China, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vientam.

The tea grown in the Jiangsu area tend to be on small leafed bushes. The tea grown in Yunnan area tend to be on big leafed, well, actual trees. Distinct varieties of tea are grown in each area, due to the differences in climate.

I haven’t had actual Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu, so I can’t tell you how much this one resembles the other, but given the differences in regions, I don’t actually expect that this Yunnan Green Snail Bi Luo Chun tastes much like the real thing, from Jiangsu.

However, another distinguishing factor in “Green Snail” tea is how it is formed. As I mentioned, after the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually formed into shapes which allow it to be stored without damaging the leaves.

In the case of “Green Snail” the tea is formed into a sort of double coil. First the leaf is rolled vertically, then it is rolled horizontally. The shape is said to resemble a snail which has been cooked and pulled out of its shell. Well, which you can see from the picture, it does. Yum.

While this tea may not be real “Bi Luo Chun” from Jiangsu, it is a very solid green tea.

I find with these assortments from Yunnan Sourcing, there is usually a couple exceptional teas, one unusual tea, and one that is just a solid, well priced example of the classification. A daily drinker, if you will.

This tea seems to be the daily drinker in this bunch. It is a super solid example of Yunnan green tea. Good clean flavor, forgiving of careless brewing, stands up to multiple brews, but doesn’t require it. I took it to my Mom’s house over the holiday and drank it every day.

#YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #GreenTea

Cui Ming Premium

Cui Ming Premium.

Cui Ming Premium Yunnan Green Tea * Spring 2018 from the Yunnan sourcing Yunnan “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

This is an unusual green tea.

First it’s a bit odd that it isn’t formed. Second, it is ridiculously light, almost a White Tea, or the ghost of a green tea.

Oh, but we haven’t talked about that yet.

White tea production is the simplest, the tea is picked, withered slightly, and dried. That’s pretty much it.

Green tea is slightly more complicated.

First, in general, white tea contains a slightly larger leaf to bud ratio than most White teas.

Second, after withering, the green tea undergoes something which is usually called “Kill Green”.

“Kill Green” refers to quickly heating the tea to stop the enzymatic action from changing the green color. Usually this is done, at a more rustic level, in something that looks a bit like a large wok, or at a more industrial level, in something that looks like a cross between a clothes dryer and a cement mixer. Alternatively, sometimes the tea is steamed, though this is more common in Japan.

After the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually, (and I say usually, because obviously this tea has not,) formed into a some sort of shape that will prevent it from breaking in transport. A spear shape, or a roll, or a pearl shape, etc. There are different styles in different regions.

The tea is then dried at a low temperature.

This tea looks basically like White Peony (Bai Mudan) which has undergone a kill green step.

According to the Yunnan Sourcing this tea is grown from a specific varietal and picked very early in the spring.

It is super light in flavor, in almost every way the complete opposite of the robust late harvest Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai I drank yesterday. There is an earthy vegetal nutty character and a lingering sweetness. A bit of astringency in the middle steeps reminds you it is green tea, and not a white tea. But it has quite a nice, and subtle aftertaste.

#YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #CuiMingPremium #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea * Spring 2018 from the
Yunnan Sourcing “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

I’m starting a new project in the new year. After spending the last few months drinking White Tea, I’m going to immerse myself in Green Tea for the next bit of time.

I started by ordering a Green Tea sampler from Yunnan Sourcing which includes Five 50g portions of various teas from Yunnan.

If you aren’t familiar with metric portioning, ordering teas in metric amounts can be a bit daunting, (but, frankly, ounces are way worse).

To make things easier, think about it like this. A typical teaspoon of tea is about 2g, which is a single British/American portion of single steep, broken tea.

But, you say, “Erik, you just ordered 250g of green tea, that’s 125 servings of tea. How on earth are you going to drink that?”

Well, let’s just say, I use more than 2g of tea per serving.

A typical amount used for a single serving of multi-steeped, whole leaf, Chinese tea is more like 5g (or 7g, if you’re really working it), which is really just 50 servings. A month and a half, if you only drink one batch of tea a day.

Anyway, this is a very nice tea, though not a green tea for wall flowers.

It has a nice early vegetal aroma, chewy but not overwhelming bitterness, and a very long lasting sweet aftertaste. Appetite building! A bit like a slightly less assertive Raw (Sheng) Pu-Erh. Oh, and a pretty zippy caffeine content! Scott from Yunnan Sourcing says it is a good morning tea, and I agree.

Aged Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Dragon Ball

When posting the previous Yunnan White Teas, online tea acquaintances @unytea.store suggested that I would be remiss to skip trying some White Tea from Fuding, Fujian, the home of white tea.
Fortunately, @yunnan_sourcing sells a few types of Fujianese white tea.
This is a fun “Aged Fuding Shou Mei White Tea Dragon Ball”. Dragon Balls are 7g single serving compressed tea balls.
In this particular case, these are handmade by the Yunnan Sourcing’s proprietor’s In-Laws. He even saves a portion of the money he makes on them and gives it to his in-laws every year in their Red Envelopes! Nice!
Anyway, Shou Mei White tea contains more leaf than the pure bud white teas, and this particular white tea is aged for several years before being formed into Dragon Balls.
Aged white tea is prized for it’s mellow, sweet character and easiness on the stomach. This tea is particularly sweetly floral and reminds me a bit of the of the honeyed flavor of chamomile tea. That is, until the buzz kicks in.
I also got a pair of slightly nicer tea cups, of a more traditional size and shape. You should stop by my desk around 10am, and I’ll share.
#Fuding #WhiteTea #Dragonball #YunnanSourcing #tasseography #Cha #Tea #TeaFriends